9 Ways to get their attention : Attentional Bias

Prathamesh Krisang

Attentional bias refers to the tendency for people to pay more attention to certain stimuli, often those that are related to their current goals or needs.

Leveraging attentional bias in marketing and advertising can help to increase the chances that your message will be seen and remembered by your target audience.

1. Making a Strong First Impression

Use attention-grabbing headlines and sub-headers to help ensure that your product or service gets the attention it deserves.

Example: A project management software company using headlines like “Streamline your team’s workflow” and “Increase productivity by 50%” on their landing page and in their marketing materials to grab the attention of businesses looking to improve their efficiency.

How to use: Use attention-grabbing headlines and subheaders that highlight the benefits of your product or service, and place them prominently on your website, packaging, and other marketing materials.

2. Use Contrasting Colors

Using contrasting colors can effectively draw the attention of the viewer to specific elements or areas on a page. By creating visual contrast between different elements, you can guide the viewer’s gaze to the most important information, such as call-to-action buttons, headlines, or product features.

Example: A restaurant using contrasting colors to make the “Reserve a Table” button stand out on their website.

How to use: Use contrasting colors to make important elements on your website or in your marketing materials stand out, such as call-to-action buttons or key information.

3. Create a Sense of Urgency

Creating a sense of urgency is a strategic method for leveraging attentional bias in marketing and advertising, aimed at guiding the viewer’s attention and behavior towards taking a desired action. Using language and strategies that convey a sense of time sensitivity and the potential consequences of not acting, marketers can prompt the viewer to focus on the immediate opportunity and take action before it’s too late.

Example: A clothing store using phrases like “limited time only” and “last chance” to create a sense of urgency and encourage people to buy their products.

How to use: Use language and strategies that create a sense of urgency, such as limited-time offers, countdowns, or the use of phrases like “last chance” and “don’t miss out”.

4. Highlighting the most important information first

Highlighting the unique or differentiating features of your product or service is a powerful technique for capturing the viewer’s attention and drawing them to the most important information. By emphasizing what sets your product or service apart from the competition, marketers can differentiate their offering and make it more appealing to the viewer.

Example: An airline company can leverage the idea of highlighting important information first by showcasing their unique and standout features like extensive destination network and commitment to sustainability. By focusing on these differentiators, the airline can attract the attention of potential customers and differentiate themselves from competitors. This can help establish their brand as a leader in the industry and increase their chances of attracting new business.

How to use: Identify the unique or differentiating features of your product or service, and then use advertising and marketing techniques to highlight them.

5. The Power of Repetition

The repetition technique can be used to leverage attentional bias in marketing and advertising by creating familiarity and strengthening brand recognition. The idea is to repeat messages, slogans, images, or other elements of your brand consistently across various marketing channels, such as advertisements, social media, email marketing, or in-person events. Over time, this repetition helps to embed your brand into the minds of your target audience, making them more likely to remember it and recognize it in the future.

Example: A political party may choose a memorable slogan such as “Building a Better Future Together” or “Creating jobs for the middle class” and repeat it in all of their campaign materials, from posters and flyers to social media posts and TV ads. This repetition helps to create a strong association between the party and their message, making it more memorable for voters.

How to use: Repeat your message multiple times using different channels and mediums.

6. Tug on Heartstrings

Use emotional appeals, such as images of smiling faces or heartwarming scenes, to create an emotional connection with potential customers and make your product or service more memorable.

Example: A charity showing a video of an innocent child to evoke emotions and make people more likely to donate.

How to use: Use emotional appeals such as images, videos or stories that resonate with target audience and help to create an emotional connection with them.

7. Telling a Story

People are naturally drawn to stories, and storytelling can be a powerful way to grab attention and increase engagement.

Example: A hotel using storytelling on its website by describing the history of the hotel, how it was built, and how it has evolved to the current state and highlighting the unique characteristics of the hotel.

How to use: Consider using a customer’s story, a company’s history or even fictional story that aligns with the message you want to convey

8. Using pictures and imagery

Visual cues can be very powerful in grabbing attention and creating emotional responses as “A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words”.

Example: An outdoor gear company creating a visually appealing catalog which showcases their products in action, highlighting the adventure and freedom that their products can provide.

How to use: Use high-quality, visually appealing images to grab attention and create an emotional response. Choose images that align with the message you want to convey and the target audience you want to reach. Consider using images in various marketing efforts such as websites, social media posts, advertisements, email campaigns etc.

9. Make ’em Laugh

Using humor can grab attention and create a positive emotional connection with the audience, increasing brand recall and engagement. Humor can be used in various forms and tailored to the target audience to create a memorable and effective marketing campaign.

Example: A fast-food chain creating a comedic advertisement that features a character struggling to decide between the different menu items, highlighting the vastness of their menu options.

How to use: Use humor in various marketing efforts such as videos, advertisements, social media posts, email campaigns etc.

There are several cognitive biases that are similar to attentional bias,

Confirmation bias: This is the tendency to seek out and interpret information in a way that confirms our pre-existing beliefs and hypotheses. It can lead us to overlook or discount information that contradicts our beliefs.

Anchoring bias: This is the tendency to rely too heavily on the first piece of information encountered when making decisions or forming judgments. It can lead us to make decisions or judgments that are not necessarily in line with our best interests.

Availability heuristic: This is the tendency to overestimate the likelihood of events that are easily brought to mind or are more recent or salient. It can lead us to make judgments that are not based on the actual probability of an event occurring.

Framing effect: This is the tendency for people to make different decisions depending on how a problem or question is framed or presented. It can lead us to make different decisions based on how information is presented.


“The Psychology of Color in Marketing and Branding” by Satyendra Singh, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5646528/ “Emotions and Persuasion in Advertising” by Richard J. Fox, https://www.researchgate.net/publication/232709567_Emotions_and_Persuasion_in_Advertising “Spotlight Effect in Advertising” by Marta K. Lachowczyk, https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0265048705000401

“The Role of Emotion in Advertising” by Lisa Hart, Marketing Week, https://www.marketingweek.com/role-emotion-advertising/

“The Science of Scarcity: Why Lack Makes Things More Valuable” by Noah J. Goldstein, Steve J. Martin and Robert Cialdini, Harvard Business Review, https://hbr.org/2014/09/the-science-of-scarcity

“The Power of Highlighting: The IKEA Effect” by Stephen Wendel, Harvard Business Review, https://hbr.org/2015/05/the-power-of-highlighting-the-ikea-effect